The Last Spurt

Dear Grandpa,

These past two months have really gone by fast. I've begun to learn my way around farming, raising crops, taking care of chickens, adopting a dog, training a horse, and milking cows. I've made some friends and seen the beauty of the valley. There is no way that I'll let this place be destroyed just for a theme park... it means way too much to me and everyone here.

I think we're going to be able to save this place after all. Nevile is headed to the big race now, and we'll hear the results tomorrow... With the help I've gotten from Bob and Gwen, and from how well I've grown to know Nevile himself, I'm confident that we'll be able to win and host the race here next year. With such an important event scheduled, we should have no trouble appealing against the construction project...

It's just a matter of time now, but I think we've done it! I'll let you know how it all goes here. I wonder if this is where I'll spend the rest of my life...

Love,

Thaao


The final stretch has arrived! Last time we left off, after winning races against both Bob and Gwen, we decided to enter Nevile in the horse race, and Bob notified us that we only have two weeks left to prepare. The only thing really left to do now is to keep taking good care of Nevile and boosting his affection up.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Goddess flubbing the horse affection again

The Goddess is turning out to be no help, though, lowering Nevile's affection three times in a row. So I decided to just stop heading to wishing time for a while and focus on the farmwork and stuff. There's not really anything else we need to do at this point besides take care of Nevile, so there's not too much reason to run around town and be busy all day every day. But we are going to be able to use a New Game+ feature once we finish this story, so we may as well try to build up some more resources for our next game.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Naming a chicken 'Nico'

The first thing to get done was hatching our final chick. This was only a matter of time, since it was just waiting on incubating eggs, but we've finally filled up the coop. No one suggested names here (SHAME ON ALL OF YOU), and I didn't stream the game anymore, so I ended up just having to name them all myself. I named the last one Nico, after my friend, not the Love Live character.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: All six chickens grown up

So now our coop is full with six chickens, and trying to incubate an egg or buy another chicken will tell us we have no more room. The six birds ended up with the names Nancy (after my friend), Tifa (after the Final Fantasy character, named by my friend Kittie on Twitch when I was streaming), Rikku (same inspiration and source as Tifa), Paige (after the WWE wrestler who had a return debut around the time this chick hatched), Pocky (because I was trying Cookies & Cream flavor Pocky for the first time as this one hatched), and Nico (after one of my longest-time friends and my first really dedicated reader here).

It's not long before Nico finally grows up and we have a full coop of fully-grown chickens, producing six eggs a day!

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Selling 97 tomatoes

And speaking of lots of production from the farm, saving up all those crops turned out to be a little problematic. Since we haven't really had to spend much money, we're starting to fill up our bag! While there are tons of inventory slots in the bag, you are still limited to a stack of 99 of each individual type of item. Or tomatoes actually got full, so we ended up having to eat one after picking it because we couldn't put it in the bag. After giving another one to Ronald as a gift (good mustaches deserve good tomatoes), we sell 97 of them to leave only one in the bag.

We end up selling alot of our crops, enough so that we have plenty of money to buy a few things, as I already have plans to spend the money.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Super Sickle

Our first big purchase is the Super Sickle from Louis's tool shop. The Super Sickle replaces the regular Sickle. It cuts three 'squares' of grass at a time, instead of just one. It takes three cut squares to add one fodder count to the silo, so this is convenient as you can more easily collect fodder and keep track of how much you're collecting. Of course, it's really common to end up cutting in a place where not all three squares are fully grown grass, so you end up losing count anyway. Either way, it's still a LOT faster, and it uses the same amount of stamina and fatigue to swing the Super Sickle once as it does the regular Sickle, so it's three times more efficient not only in time spent but in energy conservation as well.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Ordering a dog house

The next order of business is to order a dog house. If you head to the carpenter's house, you can find an order form where you can order expansion projects for your farm. The only things available are a kitchen and a dog house, though. Unlike many other games in the series, you don't need to provide the materials for the construction or anything, you just need to pay for the labor. The materials are included in the price, I guess.

We go ahead and order the dog house, and Woody agrees to build it even though he's nowhere near where we are at the time of ordering. I guess he's telepathic.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Cow in the barn

And our last big purchase is a cow. Actually, four cows. Yeah, we've saved up enough crops to sell them all and be able to afford four cows from Bob. We can keep a total of five cows in the barn (making a total of six animals all together, including Nevile) but I wanted to keep the last space open for later, and we're running out of crop income anyway.

I tried to think of something that comes in a group of four to name them after, so they ended up with the names Urpina, Lenora, Taria, and Balmai. Raise your hand if you get the reference!!!

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Nevile's fifth heart

In our time spending money and taking care of animals, Nevile got another heart onto his affection rating. The fifth heart's description says that he's confident he won't lose to anyone, which is great, since we're trying to win against everyone.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: The dog house being completed

A day after ordering the dog house, we wake up to Joe and Kurt at our place letting us know the construction has been completed! Now we have a little house out front for Yuna. I honestly don't know if there's a point to this at all. Yuna likes to go sit in it often, though. I think perhaps it's now safe to leave Yuna out in the rain without worrying about losing any affection or making her mad, but I still bring her inside if it's going to rain anyway. Perhaps the dog house was originally intended to be a requirement to adopting a dog, but it was removed or programmed improperly so you don't actually need it. Or perhaps it just acts as a boost to affection to help you get your dog's affection up more quickly. I don't really know. I just build it for completion's sake.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Chicken Amalgamation

We eventually have a rain threat and have to put the animals inside. One fun thing about chickens, though, is that when bringing them back outside, you don't have to actually set them down in different spots; you can just drop them all right in front of the door. Then they all sort of blend together into this weird chicken blob, that I've nicknamed The Amalgameggtion.

For some reason, this is so hilarious to me and I always am excited to drop chickens on the same spot. It only really seems to work when you're bringing them out and drop them in front of the door without moving, though. And the camera angle is perfect, too.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Pushing cows

Cows, on the other hand, are a huge pain to get in and out of the barn. You can't just pick them up and set them down easily like the much-smaller chickens. Instead, you have to push them. And cows are not particularly fond of being pushed, nor do they seem to understand the purpose of being pushed, as they'll just kind of move around on their own while being pushed, turned back and forth and stuff, and you have to constantly adjust the direction you're pushing them to get them to go where you want.

Just getting them started moving is hard enough, because if you're not pressing within a certain range of angles from behind them, you'll stop pushing and start walking again. And as soon as you start pushing, the cow will adjust its position immediately to a new position, and it's likely you'll suddenly be outside of the proper angle range, and immediately stop pushing again, running off to the side of the cow.

Once you finally do get the pushing action going, controlling it is quite difficult. I don't think the game registers the cow ever as being pushed straight forward, partially because the cow itself is randomly turning left and right the entire time. If you push more to the left of the cow, the cow will gain velocity to the right, and if you push more to the right, the cow will gain more velocity to the left. And all of this is relative to the cow's facing and your facing, and since it's constnatly moving, it's never really relative to the camera. So it can be really difficult to get a handle on the pushing controls.

It's meant to be frustrating and cumbersome, though -- cows do not want to be pushed, and dealing with moving them in and out of the barn is intended to be a difficult process, so you might consider simply not letting them out at all, even if it will boost their happiness more to allow them to graze when it's nice out rather than to keep them holed up in the barn all day every day.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Receiving Gwen's Lucky Charm

With less than a week left before the big race, Gwen stops by our farm to visit. She says she's a little worried about Nevile because he's a naturally timid horse, and he might get scared at the big race away from the valley. She offers up a potpourri that Lyla taught her how to make, and said that allow Nevile to smell its scent will help calm his nerves. We receive the key item "Gwen's Lucky Charm" from this event. Key Items go in a special slot in the inventory and serve as nothing more than event triggers and stuff like that.

After giving us the horse herbs, Gwen says she's confident in Nevile and will be praying for his victory. Which is a bunch of contradictory stuff, because if she was confident in him, why is she also talking about being worried about him and needing to give him special items? And if you're confident something will happen, why would you pray for it to happen?

Anyway, I don't know if this item is necessary to win the race, but I'm guessing it is. I'm also guessing it's possible to get this far without ever having befriended Gwen well enough, and she won't actually give you the item, causing you to lose the race in the end. I don't know how that would play out, either -- I'm guessing either the game would give you another chance (like have another race in the next month) or you'd have to spend the rest of your time looking for another way to save the valley.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Angry dog

Yuna learned two new recorder commands, one at a time, over the course of the Summer, too. One is called "heel" and I have no idea what it is supposed to do. My guess is that "heel" was not a proper translation. Usually Yuna seems to ignore the command, but now and then, she'll run over to us when we play it. But then this just does the same thing as whistling for the dog, so I don't know why they would create something redundant like that. My only guess is that it's intended to be a "cancel" for the "run" command, but at the time you learn it, you don't even have the "run" command yet, so... that's kind of strange.

"Run," on the other hand, is a much more useful command, though for now it just makes Yuna bark when she listens to it successfully. We don't have the opportunity to make use of it just yet, though, especially since she hardly ever obeys the command right now anyway.

I spent so much time playing with Yuna outside that when I brought her in for the night because it was going to rain the next day, she ended up getting mad because it was too late. If you pick her up once its too late in the day, she'll get grumpy with you and lose affection. I think it's because she's tired and wanting to sleep, but you're disturbing her.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Bob here to take Nevile

A few days into the rainy season, Summer 24 rolls around -- the day of the big race! Bob appears at our farm in the morning and says he's reading to take Nevile. Or, at least, he tries to, but the dialogue is a little glitchy.

This is where another disappointment comes from in this game -- you don't actually get to go to the horse race yourself! You just give your horse over to Bob and he goes and takes it on his own. You just start your normal day on the farm, everything the same except Nevile isn't there.

While this game has a completely different one-year-only structure, in other games in the series, there's usually a yearly (or sometimes even more frequent!) horse race, and you can enter your horse, sometimes able to control it to try to win for yourself, other times you just watch, but you can also bet on the races to win tokens to get prizes or stuff like that.

In this it's just... send your horse away somewhere else and you get to hear about the results the next day.

There's not much to do on this final day -- the chores are the same. Bob is still in the valley; if we talk to him, he tells us not to be nervous and to have faith in Nevile. Gwen doesn't even say anything unique.

Our eggs reach the cap of 99 in the bag, so we head up to the villa to sell some to Martha. That's about it for highlights of the day...

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Gwen and Bob arguing

The next day, we head outside to find Gwen running up to us excitedly. It seems like Nevile won the race! It's... not so exciting since we were pretty much expecting this and it's not like we... actually got to see the race or anything...

Bob says he knew you could do it from the beginning, to which Gwen expresses her doubt. Then Bob reminds her about how much she was against the idea of us training Nevile, too.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: THUMBS UP, EVERYBODY

They cut their little spat short, though, and everyone looks at each other and starts laughing and giving each other thumbs up. I guess we all realized that at this point it's more important to celebrate Nevile's victory and the fact that we're going to be able to save the valley, rather than to fight over who believed in us the least.

And with that, we've cleared one of the endings to the game, and we get a credits roll!

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Gwen and her horse during the credits roll

The credits are kind of long, and we get this sepia-filter version of all of the story cutscenes that were part of the ending path that we got. So it's just... things we've seen before. I guess it's supposed to be like memories of what happened over the course of the game, but a single ending in this game is pretty short, so... it's not all that interesting to watch. Though with the more complex stories, I do enjoy seeing the little recap. But like half of the scenes in this story were just Bob arriving at the farm and watching us ride Nevile.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Seeing Nevile at Brownie Farm after the race

Once the credits roll is over, though, we do get a very cute little bonus scene to cap off this playthrough. We arrive at Brownie Farm, where Nevile has now returned from the race and is waiting for us.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Running down the hill to Nevile

Happy to be reunited with our good buddy and now race-winning horse, we run down the hill at the entrance to Bob's farm to where Nevile is.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Brushing horse in the ending

We talk to him and give him a nice brushing. Then we hear some voices from behind us.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Gwen and Bob arriving at Brownie Farm

Gwen and Bob have caught up with us.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Gwen smiling to us

The three of us mount our horses and head to the Brownie Farm track. Gwen looks and smiles at the two of us, and we're off!

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Bob, Gwen, and Toy racing at the end of the game

The three of us take a few friendly laps around the track. I don't know if we're actually racing or just playing around and having victory laps. We get lots of different camera angles, and the three look around and smile at each other and stuff. It's very cute and fun to watch. And I think it's a good way to round off the story, since the main purpose of the story is to show how your relationships with others grow and can change your life.

Eventually, Nevile ends up moving to the front of the pack, since he's the fastest, and the screen fades to black.

Save the Homeland Screenshot: Saved clear data

We're asked if we'd like to save clear data, which just prompts us to save our game like normal. After saving, our save file reverts back to being on the 2nd day of Spring, and now we have a little icon of a horse to show that we've cleared that ending.

And so our first story has come to a close. It actually finished faster than I thought it was going to -- we didn't even get all the way through the summer!

But now we get to start again and try to get another ending. A few of the endings are pretty simple like this one, but some of the others will have a lot more story to them and really help us get to know our neighbors. Next time we'll do one that is a little bit more interesting. Thanks for reading thus far!